The # symbol has come a long way. The ‘Shift + 3’ symbol on the keyboard is now one of the most frequently used social media shortcuts, tactics, annoyances — however you want to look at it –- and it’s made its mark. So, what exactly is # used for in social media? Let’s start with what it is not-so-much used for in social media:
- Baby, I Got Your Number: Remember when the # was a precursor for your digits? With email, messaging, Skype, etc….the # lost its luster and has been replaced in the digital world with the @ symbol.
- Losin’ Weight: Frequently called the “pound sign” in the United States (versus “hash” in United Kingdom and Ireland), this symbol stands for pound, as in, never email a woman, “How many # do you weigh?”
- The End: For those of you familiar with press releases, the ### denotes the end of the press release. Done. Finished. The end.
You may be surprised how many more meanings of # exist. But since the revelation of social media, # has made its mark online and reinvented its use. Referred to as a “hashtag,” # is used to group together a set of conversations using a phrase (with no spaces) prefaced by a hashtag (i.e. #digitaldarlingmedia). When someone searches for that hashtag phrase on certain social media sites, all of the conversations tagged with that particular hashtag appear. Or, if someone includes a hashtag in their post, the fan or follower can click on it and see a stream of posts that include that hashtag.
Sounds easy enough. But according to the Ask Your Target Market, only 8% of social media users are often using hashtags in their posts. My goal is to help break the hashtag barrier and get you started using hashtags for your posts.
Social Media Accounts Using Hashtags
The following social media platforms use hashtags. Click on the name of the platform for tips on using the hashtag on that specific site:
While there are more that could be added to the list, this is a just a list of the more popular sites.
Use the Hashtag to Attract New Fans
The easiest way to start using hashtags is to think about the content of your post and then create a hashtag relevant to it. For example, if you are posting about back-to-school shopping, you may include these hashtags in your post: #backtoschoolshopping, #backtoschoolsales or #backtoschool. Another simple way to incorporate hashtags is to simply include your business name – precede it with a hashtag and don’t use spaces (i.e. #lakeshorelearning).
However, if you are a little more strategic with your hashtags, you can attract new customers. Consider these tactics and you may see an increase in fans and followers:
- Brainstorm terms relevant to your business and use them as hashtags in your post (remember to just put the ‘#’ sign in from of it and don’t use spaces). Again, use your company name in your posts. When someone searches for your company, they will find you easier.
- Piggyback on popular, relevant hashtags. Consider top news stories, trending tweets, pop culture and more.
- If your business is associated with a popular brand, use it. For example, if you are a small business, you may want to consider using #SBA in your posts.
- Include only 2-4 hashtags at the end of your post. Don’t annoy or overwhelm your audience.
Strengthen Your Brand with Hashtags
Hashtags can be an effective way to build and strengthen your brand. By searching particular hashtags, you can find out a lot about your audience, what your customers want or need and what people are saying about your brand.
- Research your consumer base – what are they looking for? Can you fill that need with a product or service?
- Include your company name as a hashtag. This way, when people search for your, all of your posts pop up in their stream.
- Search your company name using a hashtag. You can respond to consumers, help them solve an issue or simply thank them for their business.
The sky is the limit with hashtags. By incorporating strategic hashtags in your posts, you can increase your fan base and strengthen your brand.
- How Hashtags Are Becoming More Universal (smallbusinessmavericks.com)
- Build Your Brand with Hashtags (business2community.com)
- 3 Hashtag Tools That Will Greatly Improve Your Social Media Exposure (socialmediatoday.com)
- Hashtag Etiquette (visual.ly)